Trans-oceanic subsurface photovoltaic performance

Collin A. Krawczyk, Michael W. Shafer, Paul G. Flikkema, Rachel Rose Holser, Daniel Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Utilization of marine photovoltaic energy is primarily focused on surface harvesting with limited photovoltaic cell implementations in submarine environments. Potential applications include marine wildlife telemetry devices, autonomous underwater vehicles, or remote sensing assets. In these applications, understanding the power at depth is critical, but there has yet to be a long-term study of cell performance in a realistic marine environment that spans time, geographic location, and depth. In this paper, we present photovoltaic assessments carried out by devices mounted to adult female northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) during their spring migrations in the Pacific Ocean with deployment times between 76 and 107 days. Encompassing a large geographic area between Santa Cruz, California, and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska during their migrations, elephant seal behavior allows for repeated depth profiles each day, making them an ideal host for subsurface power assessments. This paper presents the first longitudinal study of photovoltaic cell performance in the marine environment that spans location, time, and depth. This work discusses the calibration, data time alignment, and power calculations of these oceanic deployments. Deployment results, including power results and energy predictions from the data record, are presented up to 22 m in depth. We highlight how the recorded power data of these cells compares to previously published results and how depth impacts subsurface power and energy harvesting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-185
Number of pages14
JournalProgress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • biologging
  • energy harvesting
  • irradiance
  • marine telemetry
  • modeling
  • solar power
  • submerged
  • tag
  • wildlife

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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